Forest Ecology

Pinus longifolia. Public domain. Aylmer Bourke Lambert. 1803.


Adaptation – How a species changes over time to help it survive in its environment
Canopy – Tallest trees in a forest; also includes animals living in that level
Decomposition – The breakdown process of organic matter through decay, rotting, animal feces
Ecology – The study of relationships between organisms and their environment
Habitat – The environment in which a species typically lives and eats
Pioneer Species – The first species to enter a new habitat
Succession – Change in different species and their community over time
Symbiosis – A biological relationship between two species
Understory – Trees and plants that live below the main canopy level of a forest

Bald cypress samples


Go outside and find a tree in your backyard, school playground, community park, etc. Once you pick your tree, look at the different characteristics (leaf shape, size, color; bark; height, trunk width; etc.) and identify your tree. 

Once you identify your tree, take note of its habitat. Does it like shade or sun? Does it grow near the water? Is it the tallest tree around or is it in the understory? Do you notice any animals or insects on, or around, your tree? Write down as many details about your tree’s habitat as you can. Take some photos or make a drawing / painting / collage of your tree. 

Bald cypress botanical drawing. Louisiana Digital Library.

Next, do some research (computer or library) to find out more about your tree. Write a short story about your tree and include everything you saw and read about it. Include a picture of your tree or your artistic representation and send it to us:

One submission will be chosen to be featured on our social media!

If you need help with identifying your tree for this activity:

Arbor Day tree identification | LeafSnap App

or email a photo of your tree or leaf to

Activity can be done in combination with Project Learning Tree activity “We All Need Trees,” which can be adapted for PreK-6 grade in Science, Visual Arts & Language Arts.

Activity is open to all ages and was adapted from Rock Eagle 4-H Center Education Program Curriculum. It meets the needs or can be combined with other activities for the following Georgia Standards of Excellence in Science.

  • S3L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the similarities and differences between plants, animals, and habitats found within geographic regions (Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plains, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau) of Georgia.
  • S4L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the roles of organisms and the flow of energy within an ecosystem.
  • SBO1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to analyze the nature of the relationships between plant morphological structures and anatomical structures, functions, and processes.
  • SBO2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to delineate the plant divisions based on current plant phylogenetic and taxonomic principles.

World Book Day

Some of the earliest books were about the natural world – illustrations of birds, plants and exotic animals were popular.

They were also important reference works as many scientists couldn’t travel easily. They would rely on detailed drawings and descriptions to make comparisons.

For World Book Day, we’ve picked a few of our favorite book covers and illustrations to celebrate.

Click on any image for more information.
The floral kingdom: its history, sentiment and poetry, by Cordelia Harris Turner, 1876.
The birds of America: from drawings made in the United States and their territories by John James Audubon, 1840
Flora Graeca, sive, Plantarum rariorum historia, quas in provinciis aut insulis Graeciae by John Sibthorp, 1806

Les fleurs animées. [Illustrated frontis piece], 1847. NYPL

The ‘Look About You’ Nature Study Books, Book 4 [of 7] by Thomas Hoare, date unknown.

Zoological sketches by Joseph Wolf, 1861.
Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada by Charles Francis Saunders, 1920
Our Field and Forest Trees by Maud Going, 1916
The Birds of Australia by Gregory M. Mathews, 1910.
Moths and Butterflies by Mary C. Dickerson, 1901.
Fishing tackle, its materials and manufacture : a practical guide to the best modes and methods of making every kind of appliance necessary for taking freshwater fish, and for the equipment of the angler and fly-fisher. With two hundred and fifty-four illustrations and explanatory diagrams.
by John Harrington Keene, 1886

Flora: Nyssa ogeche

Tupelo, ogeche trees on the north Suwanna River north, Florida.

The Ogeechee Lime (Nyssa ogeche), also known as the Ogeechee Tupelo, is a member of the dogwood family. It lives in damp areas, near rivers and swamplands in the American southeast, including the Ogeechee River basin.

Native range of the Nyssa ogeche

With wide trunks and knobby roots, it produces a small fruit in late summer or early fall. Called tupelo limes, the fruit is often used in the place of traditional limes, including to make a lemonade-type drink and to make preserves.

WSAV image of specimen on Armstrong campus

The flowers appear from late March to early May after the new leaves have grown. These fruit blossoms are pollinated by bees which then produce the famous tupelo honey. Some beekeepers have planted the tree in order to encourage greater honey production.

Nyssa ogeche was named by renowned botanist William Bartram in the book Arbustrum Americanum published in 1785. Bartram visited the southeast, including Savannah, in 1773. In his travels he documented more than 200 new species of birds and more than 150 plants.